Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Richard Speck, Born to Raise Hell

Speck Lucks out

Speck arrived at Pete's Tap around 10:30 a.m., fresh, clean, and rested. From his belt hung a 12-inch hunting knife. Not the knife used in the killing, Speck didn't feel a bit anxious showing it off. A month earlier, Speck pawned his 25-jewel watch for some booze. Now with a few bucks on him, he bought the watch back from Ray Crawford, the bartender. Then he asked Crawford to put the hunting knife behind the bar. Comfortable, Speck began to spin a tall tale about his time in Vietnam. How he used the knife to kill several people there.

Speck, at one point, reached behind the bar, got the knife, then sneaked behind the bartender, put his left arm around his chest and held the knife at his throat. He told Crawford, this is the way he'd kill someone if he had to. Crawford, angry and not impressed, read him the riot act. Speck, with his southern charm, claimed it was just a big joke.

William Kirkland, a regular at the bar, bought the knife from Speck. He told Kirkland he purchased the knife from a vet aboard ship. In reality, the knife was given to Speck by his brother-in-law, Gene Thornton.

The drunken duo traipsed across the street to another bar, the Soko-Grad, and continued to drink. It was there that Speck for the first time heard that there was a survivor from the massacre. Turning to Kirkland, he said, "it must have been some dirty motherfucker that done it." Then he started on another tale of how he hit his brother-in-law over the head with a bottle and was thrown out of the house. But not before his sister gave him $85.00.

He hooked up with another drinking buddy, Robert R. "Red" Gerald, a fellow hillbilly. From bar to bar, they drank until Red, wrecked from too much booze, needed to crash. Speck took his drunken buddy Red back to his room at the Shipyard Inn so he could sleep it off. Before he let Red sleep, Speck told him about shacking up the night before with a hooker who thought he was so good he got it for free. Speck left Red, went downstairs to the bar and belted down a few more until being pulled away for a telephone call.

Wielosinski had the agent call Speck's last known telephone number, his sister's. The agent told Speck's brother-in-law that Speck was needed to ship out, the union hall had found him a job. Gene Thornton told the agent he would try to find Speck, happy to know that his low life brother-in-law would be out of his hair.

Thornton called the Shipyard Inn were he found Speck. He told Speck to call the union hall because they had a job for him. Speck called the union hall and the agent told him to come down for his assignment on the ship Sinclair Great Lakes. Clever Speck knew that the Sinclair had shipped out a few days before. He told the agent he was up north and it would take an hour to get there, but he'd be down to pick up the assignment. He never showed up.

Immediately, Speck went upstairs, woke Red, packed his bags, went downstairs and ordered a cab. Red, still woozy, sat outside on the curb holding his head. Speck waited inside Shipyard Inn bar and began playing pool by himself. When three plainclothes cops came in looking for a tall, blond guy with a southern accent, Speck played cool. He listened and continued to play pool just ten feet from the officers. The bartender was no help.


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